Typically this blog is reserved for matters of biblical studies, church, theology and occasional oddities. But I wanted to share a brief review of what has proven to be a volume of great impact on my own life. Now being the father of two lovely young girls I find myself constantly wondering if I am doing things "right" - or how are things going in my ability to raise my daughters. This question can go multiple ways, ranging from physical and psychological development to spiritual and emotional growth. Still, the concern for me (and countless others) has instilled a drive to learn and prepare.
After leaving an already-stellar academic career in child psychology and development at USC, Dr. Dobson followed divine calling and began Focus on the Family, a ministry dedicated to the establishment and protection of healthy families. His radio broadcasts, televisions interviews, speaking events and numerous books have solidified him in the fabric of evangelical America. There are many who are quick to decry him and even vilify him, but they rarely show any merit and often prove that they are of such little character themselves by the manner of their attack.
In 2005 Dobson produced Bringing Up Boys, to much success and acclaim. The book was barely half-finished when the calls began to come in for a similar volume on girls. After much time, research, writing and effort we now have both volumes to help us through this gender maze - especially as parents.
There is much to commend for Bringing Up Girls. Dobson covers a wide range of topics, and is always able to keep the full spectrum of childhood in focus - for instance, he is ever-mindful of speaking about infants and toddlers while also demonstrating how adolescent and young-adult girls and women are impacted by the issue at hand. Further, he writes with a very readable and instructional style, never dumbing down the data but keeping the concepts readily available for the reader. As a parent (who did not score particularly well in Psychology 101), the information and data given here was always understandable and placed well within its proper context.
The book as a whole is designed to give parents (and now grandparents or other guardians) the perspective on how girls grow and develop, so that each parental figure can adequately use the tools of their own personality to positively guide and direct the process. In other words, the overall aim here is to allow each parent to be themselves in a positive way for the child to grow. It does not take special superpowers to make an impact on children - positively or negatively - but it does take the right approach and the right frame of mind.
Bringing Up Girls frequently addresses the unique role of fathers in the life of girls. And here we find one of the greatest deficiencies in our modern culture. Time and again the research demonstrates what Scripture has said all along: that both Mom and Dad are vital to the physical, emotional, psychological, spiritual growth and development of children (here it is specifically girls). As someone who has always believed in this cultural lifestyle I was staggered to learn just how deep and intricate such relationships run throughout the growing processes of girls. It is also quite humbling to know that God has given fathers this place. I have said many times (and continue to do so), You may or may not care for his politics, but when it comes to the state and decline of the family over the past forty years, James Dobson is right.
Further, the book will prove to be indispensable in providing parents guidelines for helping their girls navigate the dangers of the surrounding world - from bullies and bulimia to tantrums and television. The secret lies in Dobson's repeated concern for allowing girls to have the self-confidence which comes from a stable home, involved parents, an instilled self-worth, and an awareness of the God who created them and surrounded them with his deep and affectionate love.
My wife and I consider ourselves blessed that this volume was produced at a time when our little girls are just starting out on this journey of life, and we thank God for Dr. Dobson and his tireless work for the family as a unity of godliness in this world.